1 of 2


: physical or mental damage : injury
the amount of harm sustained by the boat during the storm
: mischief, hurt
I meant you no harm.


2 of 2


harmed; harming; harms

transitive verb

: to damage or injure physically or mentally : to cause harm (see harm entry 1) to
No animals were harmed in the making of the film.
the national interest … was gravely harmed by this attackElmer Davis
harmer noun
Choose the Right Synonym for harm

injure, harm, hurt, damage, impair, mar mean to affect injuriously.

injure implies the inflicting of anything detrimental to one's looks, comfort, health, or success.

badly injured in an accident

harm often stresses the inflicting of pain, suffering, or loss.

careful not to harm the animals

hurt implies inflicting a wound to the body or to the feelings.

hurt by their callous remarks

damage suggests injury that lowers value or impairs usefulness.

a table damaged in shipping

impair suggests a making less complete or efficient by deterioration or diminution.

years of smoking had impaired his health

mar applies to injury that spoils perfection (as of a surface) or causes disfigurement.

the text is marred by many typos

Examples of harm in a Sentence

Noun They threatened him with bodily harm. The scandal has done irreparable harm to his reputation. She'll do anything to protect her children from harm. They have suffered serious physical harm. These new regulations could cause lasting harm to small businesses. Verb He would never intentionally harm his children. chemicals that could harm the environment The scandal has seriously harmed his reputation. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
There are also hundreds of YouTube videos showing instances where FSD betas (though many of them are now quite dated) fail to react the way a human driver would, causing the driver to intervene to avoid danger or harm. Brooke Crothers, Forbes, 18 Feb. 2024 Either way, Zelenskyy’s insightful words about the short-sighted folly of Russia’s invasion and awed praise for Ukrainians’ strength of character, expressed in English that gets more fluent every month, will do no harm to his reputation. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Feb. 2024 Children and adolescents are especially susceptible to harm because their brains are not fully developed, the lawsuit said. Carolyn Thompson, Fortune, 15 Feb. 2024 Eventually, Smith and Winchester were able to leave the closet and head to the team’s buses, which were filled with fans who were trying to get out of harm’s way, Smith said. Anna Lazarus Caplan, Peoplemag, 15 Feb. 2024 Dozens of state governments sued Meta last fall for allegedly misleading the public about the harms its services could cause young users. Lauren Feiner, The Verge, 15 Feb. 2024 What Russo and three separate mental health professionals agree on is that parents can take ownership of recognizing warning signs that their child is in distress and take steps to mitigate harm. Beth Ann Mayer, Parents, 14 Feb. 2024 The blog post highlights how, amid a lack of congressional action to regulate AI, federal agencies are increasingly trying to apply existing law to AI’s potential risks and harms. Brian Fung, CNN, 14 Feb. 2024 Regulators also don’t take action on a product until it is shown to cause harm. Emily Hemendinger, The Conversation, 6 Feb. 2024
And these instances harm Google’s public image and trust amongst users as well. John Hall, Forbes, 18 Feb. 2024 Not moving children from the area would have harmed their mental well-being. Louis Casiano, Fox News, 17 Feb. 2024 Former Kansas Senate President Steve Morris, a moderate Republican who lost a primary challenge in 2012, argued this change has harmed the state. Katie Bernard, Kansas City Star, 16 Feb. 2024 Much of Thursday’s hearing centered on thousands of Americans’ claims, made to a federal reporting system and compensation program, that vaccines harmed them. Sarah Owermohle, STAT, 15 Feb. 2024 Secure our borders, make tax cuts permanent, cut wasteful regulations that are harming small business owners. Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 According to Reuters, someone called authorities to falsely report that a man shot his girlfriend and threatened to harm himself at the property. Jessica Sager, Peoplemag, 13 Feb. 2024 The decision by four members of the Hayward City Council to divest from four companies to demonstrate their anti-Israel bias doesn’t do anything to harm the companies nor to harm Israel. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, 13 Feb. 2024 Normally, creating such a franchising behemoth would raise genuine antitrust concerns because consumers could be harmed by the enormous market dominance of the new company and resulting higher prices. John Fund, National Review, 13 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'harm.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English hearm; akin to Old High German harm injury, Old Church Slavonic sramŭ shame

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of harm was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near harm

Cite this Entry

“Harm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harm. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: physical or mental damage : injury
harm verb

Legal Definition


: loss of or damage to a person's right, property, or physical or mental well-being : injury
harm transitive verb

More from Merriam-Webster on harm

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